Sunday, September 24, 2023
NewsDebate over proposed "Central Ethiopia" intensifies as supporters, critics take sides

Debate over proposed “Central Ethiopia” intensifies as supporters, critics take sides

The proposal to establish a new “Central Ethiopia” regional state out of existing Southern Nation Nationalities and Peoples Regional State (SNNPR) continues to generate debate, with little clarity on its ultimate fate.

As supporters and opponents stake out increasingly entrenched positions, those advocating clustering argue it can promote development and services after years of unaddressed autonomy demands. But critics counter it imperils hard-won identities like that of the Gurage people.

Among leading the opposition is Jemil Sanni of the Gurage Unity and Justice Party, citing Ethiopia’s constitutionally enshrined right to self-determination. The Gurage Zone council, which once rejected the proposal, wants a referendum on autonomy.

However, the government proposes creating a Central Ethiopia as a solution without holding any referendum, fueling accusations of high-handedness from figures like Jemil. With momentum building on both sides of this contentious issue, reconciliation seems like a distant prospect for now.

This friction stems from Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s (PhD) shake-up of Ethiopia’s ethno-federal model since 2018. His reforms birthed states like Sidama, yet left many proposals languishing – exacerbating disputes over resources and authority, says Jemil.

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He argued any solution requires careful consideration and consensus, with no one-size-fits-all answer for the complex ethnic federalism challenges facing Ethiopia.

Genene Gedebu (Ass. Prof.) of the Kutcha Peoples Democratic Party argues that clustering is the best option. Clustering, according Genene, an executive member of the Kutcha Peoples Democratic Party, is the best thing that has occurred for the region.

The strategy will help alleviate the tense situation that arose as a result of the formation of the Sidama regional state and the conflict over Hawassa city.

According to Genene, “societies have lost faith in one another since then, but clustering the region would be an appropriate option to restore long-lost trust between nations and nationalities until sentiment settles.”

He stated, “Clustering will help build trust for the future.”

As debate on Central Ethiopia’s future continues, it could become the fourth regional state established in the area since Abiy took power in 2018.

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